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Day 12.  Arlington National Cemetery and Washington D.C.

Today, all three routes of Run For The Wall gathered together for a few final acts in our Mission.  First, one hundred and fifty FNGs rode into Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the grave of an air crew that had remained unaccounted for, for over 30 years after the Vietnam War.  We offered a dignified ceremony to honor their remains, and the sacrifice of their families.

We then proceeded to the Reflecting Pool in front of the Washington Monument for a group photo of all three Routes.  We are Brothers and Sisters.  We are Family, and it is only fitting that we have this one, last moment together before we solemnly make our way to The Wall.

And we did.  The Route Coordinators for each of our three Routes were joined by the Sandbox Route Coordinator.  Together, they walked quietly down to the apex of The Wall and placed a plaque there, denoting all that we have done for the past 11 days, and why.

The last act performed was for and with all of those wonderful Fine New Guys and Gals.  Each FNG received a pin at the start of the Run that signified their status as “new” to our Mission.  For each of these people, they have met someone that has become a mentor or close friend: someone that has meant a lot to them during their journey.  The FNG chose that special person, and had them turn their FNG pin upside down.  It is this final symbolic act that truly demonstrates that we are all one big Family.

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The Midway Route has now completed our cross-country Mission to raise awareness for our Prisoner of War and Missing In Action personnel.  We healed some of the cares and burdens of our Veterans.  We demonstrated to their Families and supporters that we care, and that we expect our Nation to live up to it’s promise to take care of our Veterans.  We visited Veterans Homes, we talked to school children about the importance of honoring our Nation and our Veterans, we laid wreaths and presented honors at memorials as we travelled across the land.  We said their names, and remembered their sacrifices.

We did precisely what we set out to do.

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It has been my extreme honor to write up these little Situation Reports for you each day.  I have tried to convey not so much the minutia and details of what we did each day, but instead tried to capture the spirit and energy of what our Riders experienced along our way.  I hope that these writings will inspire you to join us next year.  And if you can’t, then I hope even more fervently, that you will take up our Mission for yourself.  Stand up when you hear our National Anthem.  Say the Pledge of Allegiance.  Talk to a Veteran.  Tell them that you respect their service to our Country.  Talk to an MIA Family Member.  Let them know that their sacrifice has not been in vain, and that we honor them and their loved-one.  Thank God that you are an American, and live in a country where our freedoms have been paid for by the brave Men and Women that have served our country so faithfully.


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author






You can find many more photos from our time at The Wall by following this link.



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Day 11.  Ashland, VA to Arlington, VA.

Today is both a happy and sad day.  Happy, because we have come all the way across our country safely, and have only 94 more miles to reach our destination.  Happy, because we have forged new familial bonds that will last us for the rest of our lives.  Happy, because we have seen people that were stooped with emotional burdens be able to stand up straight again as those burdens were lessened or even fully released.  We are Happy because we set out on a Mission, and have fulfilled it as we travelled.

But we are also a little sad, because all of this comradery is rapidly coming to an end.  Today is our last day as just the Midway Route Family.  This afternoon, we will be joined by all of our Brothers and Sisters of Run For The Wall, and that is good.  But we will not be “just us” any more, and we have come to rely on “just us.”

“WE” had our morning meeting, where we were led in the Pledge of Allegiance by our two youngest Riders.  WE had a special duet singing our National Anthem.  We listened and watched in gratitude as the Canadian National Anthem was sung, and we were able to stand at attention for our Canadian Riders, just as they have done for us.  We got to thank all of our volunteers, and especially our Leadership Team for the incredible job that they have done.  And then we mounted up our bikes and headed out for that last 94 mile ride as The 2024 Midway Route.

As we pulled into the host hotel in Arlington, VA, I watched the smiles seemingly explode out of our helmets.  People were waving and cheering as they rode by me.  One Platoon started honking their horns so loudly that they were echoing off the surrounding buildings.  We had spectators and supporters cheering and waving flags as we rounded the corner.  We were such a wonderful sight to see!

And then all too soon, Spence “Ride” Chapin was in front of my camera.  “Ride” had been our Rear Road Guard throughout our entire journey.  When he went by, I knew that the Midway Route had arrived, and our Mission was coming to a close.  Seeing him ride into the parking lot was bittersweet, because I didn’t want today to end.

Tomorrow, our 2024 Mission WILL end as we place a plaque at the apex of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  But planning is already underway for Midway Route 2025!

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Before I sign off for the day, I want to talk a little bit about that “healing process” that I keep mentioning.   But this time, the story is mine.  I have heard for over a decade how much the support of these Riders helps overcome hurting and emotional issues.  This year, I experienced it from the side of those with pain.  You see, four days ago, a dear Friend of mine, someone that I first met through Run or The Wall and whom I then got to know on a personal level, and who taught me so much in other aspects of my life, became a member of “The 22.”  His death hit me so hard, and I did not handle it well.  In fact, I still can’t.  But my Midway Route Family has thrown their loving arms around me, and supported me through my anguish.  They have let me, and the other people that knew him, that they share our pain and sorrow, and will do anything they can to help us deal with our grief.

I cannot tell you how much this is appreciated.  Without this support, the shared disbelief, the sorrow and pain being empathized, and the reminder that THIS is precisely why we Ride, I would have gone home.  But my Brothers and Sisters have reminded me that Greenie would not have wanted me to go home.  They reminded me that I am now riding for HIM.  They asked me to Continue The Mission in his honor, because it is the right thing to do.

This is exactly what I have been telling people for all of these years.  To be on the receiving end of it is both a blessing and a curse.  I didn’t want this kind of experience, but I can’t think of a better group of people to be with when I received the bad news.  The Run For The Wall Midway Route is healing ME, and I love each of you for this precious gift.

If you are one of those people that are having a tough time, and the voices inside your head start telling you to do harm to yourself, don’t listen to them!  Call one of our Brothers and Sisters!  We are here for you.  We want you here, and we want you to be here next year, too!  Don’t be one of the “22!”


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author





For photos of our Ride today, please follow this link.

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Day 10. Smithfield, NC to Ashland, VA.

Today, we celebrated FAMILY.  We did this because we truly ARE a Family.  Over the past Ten days, I have seen one hundred “Fine New Guys and Gals” go from being complete strangers to full-on friends.  From the shy and awkward first conversations at the start of the Run, I now hear people laugh and tell stories about their kids, their high-school sweethearts, what they like for breakfast, what they do for a living, when and where they served our Country, and their plans for the future.  I have heard several people already planning to get together with their new family members, and some are already planning to come back and ride with the Midway Route again next year.  These people have bonded as a group, and made individual connections that will last for a lifetime.  Our day has been filled with a lot of smiling faces!

And just as some of us have seen in the past, I noticed that the hugs went a little longer today.  The conversations were just a bit deeper than yesterday, with more emotion in them.  While we still talk about happy things, some of the talk has been about how some of the Riders are coping better with the pain and sorrow that they brought with them.  Some have done an about face with their attitudes, and where they were once cynical and angry, I now see hope and happiness.  And in one case, I have seen a change in one very guarded and private individual.  I told her at the start of the Run that I was going to pick on her everyday, and she said “Bring it on, Hoofer!”  What started as just a way to break the ice and get acquainted has turned into my own new friendship.  Blaze, I thank you for sharing some of your story, and I cherish the photo that you sent me.  For the rest of you, that is all you need to know, other than that Blaze is now fully a part of our Midway Route FAMILY!

At this mornings Riders Meeting, another of the Midway Route traditions was honored.  Last year, at every fuel or lunch stop, we had a “dignified Flag transfer” from one Rider to another.  Today, one of last years Flags was transferred to an FNG for the ride into Arlington, and on to The Wall.  This simple little act, not seen by many, but appreciated by all, is a classic example of our dedication to our Mission.  When that flag goes to the Wall, it will represent not just the people that have carried it, but all of the people that it has EVER represented!  Each American citizen, whether Active Duty, Veteran, or Civilian, needs to know the pain, suffering, sacrifice, and honor represented by those fifty stars and thirteen red and white stripes.  We, as Nation, need to remember the promises made in the name of that flag, and we need to keep them.

The Midway Route of Run For The Wall will see it done!

But before our Mission concludes on Saturday, we want to celebrate each other.  So today we took pictures!  Family portraits, if you will.  We got each Platoon, each Team, each crew, and even some spontaneous groupings involved.  We took pictures of the people serving us a GREAT lunch, and a “second lunch” a few hours later!  We took pictures of the Harley Davidson shop that hosted us.  We took pictures of serious stuff, fun stuff, and downright silly stuff.  When you see some of the photos, all I can do as far as explanations is to say “You really should have been here!”

And of course, we also had our awards ceremony.  I mentioned yesterday about volunteering for the Midway Route.  Until you see the Run in actual action, you really cannot fathom how many people it takes to make this operation roll smoothly.  This afternoon, we honored all of the volunteers with a plaque for the Team Leaders and a Certificate for each volunteer.  There were “rocker” patches handed out for each position, as well.  These small black and red patches are generally sewn onto a vest, in sequential order, denoting what the volunteer position was and for which year.  Some of our volunteers have so many “rocker patches” that you almost can’t see their vest!  This is hard, demanding work, but the pay-off is enormous.  Not only do you get that certificate and patch, but you get the undying gratitude of everyone on the Run.  But Wait, … There’s More!  You will have a warm feeling in your heart for helping others.  It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Today was all about celebrating our new Family.  So if you don’t mind, I am going to cut this SITREP a little short, and go outside and enjoy one last evening with my Midway Route Brothers and Sisters.

Goodnight, and we will talk again tomorrow.


Jim “Hoofer’ McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author




Be SURE to visit THIS link for more pictures from the day!

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Day 09.  Asheville, NC to Smithfield, NC.

In case you haven’t caught on yet, our days seem to be very much the same.  We start with a morning meeting that includes the singing of our National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, recognition of our Active Duty and Reserve personnel, and our Blue Star and Gold Star Families.  Then we have the daily briefings about safety, road and weather conditions, and go over our hand signals.  We do this every day, because safety is our first and foremost goal during the riding portion of our Mission.  We end each meeting with the reading of a biography about one of our MIA or KIA. It all might seem a bit repetitive to the casual reader, but trust me, it isn’t!  There is always something new to pass along, or to learn.

That was very apparent this morning.  As you know, the Route Coordinator chooses an Assistant Route Coordinator, who will take over the reigns next year.  The RC is training the ARC each day.  At the same time, the previous RC becomes a Mentor to the current RC.  These three people work together to make sure that knowledge and experience is passed down through each successive year.  Sometimes, that circle of Leadership is expanded, and that happened this morning.

Heidi “Blue” Hansing is the Route Coordinator for this years Sandbox Route.  She did not have the luxury of having an ARC year or even a Mentor, as these positions were vacated back in January, due to personal reasons.  So She just had to jump in and start learning.  Truly, some On The Job training.  So Don “10-a-see” King has been guiding “Blue” and training her in how to handle a large pack of Riders and all the various little duties that come along with this position.  At the same time, Our Assistant Road Guard Captain, Michael “Pipes” Long, is learning and receiving guidance from our current Road Guard Captain.  Both of these future Leaders will do a fantastic job in their upcoming roles, due to their own dedication, loyalty, experiences, and the mentoring that they are receiving.

This “passing along of knowledge” doesn’t stop with just these few roles.  EVERY role in RFTW is vital, and each one comes with it’s own peculiar set of “rules” or “suggested ways of doing things.”  Each person that volunteers for a Leadership role in RFTW gains a vast amount of prior knowledge gleaned from years of trial and error, that has lead to the success of that role.  Each Volunteer also puts their own stamp of uniqueness on that same position, and often finds ways to improve the role.  RFTW Leadership isn’t static, and neither are the ways we do things.  We are always evolving and improving.

And with that, I want to urge ALL of you to volunteer for something!  Find a position that you are interested in, and say “Hey!  I want to help!”  I can guarantee that you will be accepted into something.  You may find out that you LIKE being on the Fuel Team, because they get to meet each and every Rider.  You might like to be on the Advance Team, simply because you are a (very) early riser.  (That is NOT me!)  If you like to take pictures, come see me!  I can always use the help, and you can probably teach me something new!  Basically, it comes down to this, Run For The Wall cannot exist without volunteers.  No one gets paid, for anything.  We do it all because we believe in the Mission and want it to continue.  Trust me, we can find a place for you!

Okay, back to our day.  We enjoyed some fantastic riding up and down the mountains of North Carolina this morning.  This afternoon, we wound our way through some of the rural, back roads of the State, passing through little towns, Civil War battlefields, crossing some of the most beautiful rivers that I have seen in a long time, and just smelling the sweet, fresh air.  We made three stops today, two that fed our bodies and one that fed our souls.

First, the food!  One of our favorite stops is in Siler City, NC.  The Journey Pentecostal Holiness Church has been feeding us a STEAK LUNCH every year for ten years!  And there are green beans, baked potatoes, rolls, and … HOMEMADE ICECREAM and PEACH COBBLER!!!!  It is SO GOOD!  But that isn’t the only reason we like stopping here.  The people that serve us the food are some of the nicest people that I have ever met.  They truly want to enjoy our company, and we want to enjoy theirs.

Our dinner was provided by the Bizzell Grove Pentecostal Church.  Years ago, we dubbed this the “spaghetti Church” because they feed us the most amazing spaghetti that I have ever had.  And they do it in such a great way, too.  In order to keep all of that food warm, they serve it to us out of big white “drink coolers.”  Who would have thought of that?  It is such a great idea!  And it is really something to see a huge “cooler” that holds about 40 gallons (or more) of spaghetti.  And they have a BUNCH of them, filled to the brim!  And the deserts!  Oh My!  One beautiful Lady brought around a tray full of cakes, brownies, pie, and other sugary wonders … AFTER I had already had more than I needed!  I think I hurt her feelings when I had to decline a third brownie!  These people, too, are so wonderful and gracious to us.  We can never thank them enough, or repay their kindness and hospitality.  All we can do is say Thank You, and they say that it is enough!

But let me tell you about our other stop for the day.  Ten years ago, when the Midway Route first started, we adopted the Falcon Children’s Home in Falcon, North Carolina.  This is a place that takes in children that, for one reason or another, have no other place to go.  They give them an education, help them learn vocations, help them clear their minds of the issues that brought them there, and give them a loving and welcoming home.  The Midway Route has been proud to offer scholarships and monetary donations every year to help the Falcon Children’s Home with their Mission.  They make a difference in the lives of the kids that attend this school, and those kids go on to make a difference in the lives of everyone that they reach.  We always feel so blessed when we visit Falcon, and are loath to leave there.

All in all, it was a very good day.  Yes, the weather was a bit warm, but our hearts were warmer!  Tomorrow, there will be a shift in the attitudes of our FNGs.  Those of us that have been doing this for a few years know what is ahead, and we are already on the lookout for the reactions of our FNGs.  You see, tomorrow, it is going to dawn on a lot of people that our Mission is almost over.  There are going to be some sad moments ahead, but they are going to be tempered with joy and good memories, as those FNGs also realize that only the riding portion of the Mission is soon to end.  Who and What RFTW is will continue in the hearts of us all.

But we will talk about that tomorrow.


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author

Please follow this link to see more photos from today!

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Day 08.  Midway Route.  Cookeville, TN to Asheville, NC.

Before I can tell you about our riding today, I need to finish telling you about yesterday evening.  The Midway Route had the pleasure to work together with the Combat Hero Bike Build.  The CHBB presented a beautiful Harley Davidson Trike to US Army SP4 Harry Stokes.  He hadn’t ridden a bike in 12 years.  Let me tell you, the smile on his face as he took that new bike around the block for the first time was priceless!  As happy as he was to receive this gift, we were just as happy to be there when it was presented to him!  Harry, here is to many happy miles of the wind in your face!  Please go back to yesterdays SITREP and follow the link for the photo page.  There are a lot of pictures from last nights event!

This morning dawned cool and clear, but with a promise of warmer weather as we went “over the mountain” and then down into North Carolina.  To warm our hearts this morning, “Siren” lead us in our National Anthem, and then sang the Canadian National Anthem in honor of our 23 “Canadian Cobra Chickens” who are Riding with us.  Okay, I will admit that I don’t really know what a “Cobra Chicken” is, but that is what this group of Canadian Patriots calls themselves.  WE are extremely proud to have them ride with us each year, and one of these days, I hope to join them in Canada for their version of RFTW, called the Rolling Barrage.  They start on the east coast of Canada with a “dipping of the tires” in the Atlantic Ocean.  20 days later, they do the same ritual at the Pacific Ocean.  Check out “” and support these great Patriots.  We are all Brothers and Sisters here!

We then immediately set out for Wilson Elementary School in Crawford, Tennessee.  We “adopted” this school last year as one of our Outreach destinations.  This is a small, rural community that doesn’t have a lot of resources available to its citizens.  Some of these children live in homes with dirt floors.  Some do not have running water in their homes.  They don’t have a lot of the things that we generally take for granted.  But what they DO have, and in abundance, is a love for their Country, Their Community, and a respect for their Elders.  This is the type of America that I grew up in, and I am immensely proud to help support these kids.  In addition to a donation made on behalf of the Midway Route Riders, we took up an additional collection this morning as well.  We were able to donate over $5000 to these kids!  And remember those “Cobra Chickens”? THEY made a donation of a huge duffle bag full of school supplies!  They don’t even live in this country, and they want to help out!

As a token of appreciation for these gifts, the students put on a few wonderful patriotic performances for us.  One in particular was so cute that even I got excited about it.  Imagine if you will, six dance couples out on the gymnasium floor, dancing to “Boogy-Woogy Bugle Boy of Company B!”  These kids could really move!  AND there was even a “Bugle Boy!”  We all laughed and cried, and clapped our hands for this and the other performances.  Folks, it is at places like this, when I can see the determination, pride, and sheer exuberance of a group of children, that I have faith in our countries future.  This one school does not stand alone against the rage, violence, and apathy that we see in so many of the larger cities.  These kids are being “raised” and not just being allowed to “grow up.”  They are being taught traditional American values, and they are taking tose lessons to heart.  So for all of the “Wilson Elementary Schools” out there, please keep doing what you do best, and tach these Young Men and Women what America is truly all about!  “Firecracker”, we will see you again next year!

From Crawford, we made our way down the interstate to Knoxville, Tennessee for our lunch break and to lay a wreath at their wonderful memorial to EVERY Service Member from the County, since the Civil War.  It is an amazing memorial, and it is well worth visiting.

There is another tradition that Midway has, similar to the Road Guards jumping into the “blue Hole” like we did a few days ago.  This one was also started by Peter Green (Gear Shift) and Ray “CornMan” Cornmesser.  Ten years ago, these two linked arms and walked through the public fountain to cool off.  They did it again the next year.  But these two amazing Patriots wanted to make this more than just a way to cool off after a hard day of hot riding.  So the came up with an idea: for each group that links arms and walks through, whether it be a group of three or twenty, one person stays behind.  They do not come out with the group.  This is basically a walking Missing Man Formation.  Once the group gets across the grounds, they turn and wait for that lone Rider to walk across and join them.  This signifies the return of our MIA.  I am proud to report that with every group that walked across the fountain, each one had a Missing Man Formation.

And I want to talk about that Missing Man.  It doesn’t only mean that someone went missing in a combat situation.  On an average day, twenty-two Veterans take their own life, because they just can’t handle what they have been through, and haven’t been given the recuperation that they need.  This is not a condemnation of either our Government or our Service Men.  It is just the simple truth that our Soldiers go through Hell, and it is hard to cope with that.  At out morning meeting today, we reminded each of our Riders that they need to be there for their new RFTW Brothers and Sisters.  If the phone rings and the person on the other end is hearing voices telling them to do something bad to themselves, WE need to reach out to them and let them know that we care, and that we will help them get through this.  The words to a song come to mind whenever I think of “The 22”: “Lean on Me when you’re not strong.  I’ll share your load; I’ll help you carry on.  For it won’t be long till I’m going to need somebody to lean on.”  We are a Family, and we are here to help.  (If you or anyone that you know is having a hard time coping with any issue, PLEASE reach out for help, or lend a hand to help someone in need.  We need to stop “The 22.”)

I didn’t mean to bring everyone down with that last little bit, but this is one of the reasons that we ride.  It’s just what we do!  After eight days of intense riding and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with this healing process, we NEED a little fun, and that is what today provides for us.  We got to see the joy on the faces of those little kids.  We got to cool down in a public fountain, even if it did have an underlying purpose.  And then we got to wind our way “down the mountain” into North Carolina.  The roads here are superb for riding a motorcycle.  The pavement Is smooth, the curves are wide and sweeping, and the temperatures are “just right.”  We couldn’t have had better, or more perfect weather to end our day.

And we needed the merriment today, because tomorrow is Day 09 of our Mission.  That means it is getting close to the end.  And THAT means that we will be getting more serious as each of the next three days pass.  But we are up to the task: This is what we have been preparing for.  This is why we Ride.

Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author

Please follow this link to see more photos from todays adventure.  Be sure to check back in about a month to see hundreds more photos.  (I will need a few weeks to sort through them all!)

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Day 07.  Cookeville, TN.  “Outreach Day”

Today is a day that is unique to the Midway Route.  We leave Ontario a day earlier than the other two Routes, so that we can spend an entire day here in Cookeville.  This City welcomes us as no other along our route.  Now don’t get me wrong: we are welcomed everywhere that we go, and we get such gracious support all along the way.  Each of our stops is special to us, and we cannot thank all of our hosts for their commitment to us and our Mission.

But then there is Cookeville.  It seems like the entire town lines the streets when we arrive.  Thousands of people are cheering and waving flags as we roll through the streets.  The Fire, EMS, and Police Services are seen everywhere with lights flashing, sirens blaring, and smiles on every face.  The Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Board go all out to provide us with food, places to stay, and anything that we might need.  They really take care of us.

So a few years ago, the decision was made to “give back” just a little more to Cookeville.  We decided to spend two nights here instead of one, and to dedicate our “extra” day to doing outreach programs in the surrounding communities.  Each and every Rider gets an opportunity to go on a special outreach mission, of their choosing.  We have set up three locations, Veterans Cemeteries, VA Homes, and a Veterans Museum to visit.  Outreach programs are generally restricted to either two-wheel bikes or trikes, for safety issues.  (Some of these places are hard to get to.)  But for this day, EVERYONE can participate in an outreach program.  If you are on a trike, we have a place that you can easily get to.  If you are pulling a trailer, you can drop it off at the Hotel (there will be someone there to watch over it) and “ride easy” for the day.   We want to make sure that every Midway Rider gets to experience something special.

But as special as it is for our Riders, it means even more to the people that we visit.  Our Ambassador Team Leader, State Representative Ed Butler, has done an incredible job of setting these visits up, because he knows how much a short visit can mean to our aging or disabled Veterans.  Ed told us that last year, they met a Veteran that had not had a single visitor in years.  As the short time of the visit was drawing near, this Veteran sat up in his bed, even though it pained him with every movement, and saluted the group!  Another Veteran was so touched by the visit that he would not let our Ambassadors leave without writing them a check to help support us!

I cannot explain to you, the reader of these pages, how important our Outreach and Ambassador Teams are, not just to us as RFTW, but to the people whose lives we touch.  These two Teams are the lucky ones that get to personally feel and make a difference in the lives of our Veterans.  Every day, they are out there helping people, consoling people, making them smile, and letting them know that they are not forgotten: that some Americans still care about them and honor their service and sacrifice.

Folks, THIS is why we Ride!  This is what we do, and this is what is happening right now in Cookeville, Tennessee.  We do this so that we can bring healing and comfort to those that need it.  And by helping them, they are helping us.

I cannot put into words the thoughts and emotions of these Outreach programs any better than Mr Ed Butler himself, so the rest of this SITREP is going to be pictures and quotes from Ed’s Facebook page.  I urge each of you to visit Facebook and “follow” “State Representative Ed Butler.”

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RFTW Day 1

If you are interested in getting involved in the Run for the Wall event or similar events that honor and support veterans, there are several ways you can do so:

**Participate in the Ride**: If you are a motorcycle rider, you can join the Run for the Wall event or similar rides that support veterans. You can find information on their official website or social media channels about how to register and participate in the ride.

**Support the Riders**: Even if you are not a rider, you can still show your support by attending events along the route, waving flags on overpasses, volunteering at stops, or simply cheering on the riders as they pass through your area.

**Donate or Volunteer**: Many organizations that support veterans and active-duty military personnel are always in need of donations and volunteers. You can reach out to local veterans organizations or charities to see how you can contribute your time or resources.

**Raise Awareness**: Share information about events like Run for the Wall on social media, with friends and family, or in your community to help raise awareness and support for veterans and military personnel.

**Attend Ceremonies or Events**: You can also attend ceremonies, memorials, or events in your area that honor veterans and show your support for those who have served or are currently serving in the military.

By participating in these ways, you can contribute to honoring and supporting veterans and active-duty military personnel in your community and beyond.

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RFTW Day 2

Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM. Our first stop was Winslow, AZ to stand on the corner and to stop at the Winslow 911 Memorial for a moment of reflection and remembrance. Next visit was to Milan Elementary. This visit is always a highlight for the Midway riders and the kids. The energy and excitement there is contagious! While in Milan we laid a wreath at the Veteran’s Memorial, honoring those who have served our country with courage and sacrifice.

Throughout the day, we made several fuel stops, and amidst it all, the Ambassadors, Outreach team, a couple of platoons, and road guards were warmly welcomed at VFW Post 2616 for a delicious meal. The hospitality and camaraderie among everyone there was truly heartwarming. Meeting Bert, a 99-year-old WWII and Korean War veteran, was a humbling experience.

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RFTW Day 3 was a day filled with both challenging weather and inspiring encounters. Despite the rain and hail, we pushed forward, visiting David J. Flores Veterans Center in Blue Hole New Mexico, groups of folks standing waving flags (some in the rain) and a Veterans Home in Amarillo where we met true heroes, individuals with remarkable military service records.

The day was a reminder of the sacrifices made by these brave men and women, and the importance of honoring their service. The highlight for me was the opportunity to meet some of these veterans, including a gentleman that had been a POW for 3 years and awarded 3 Purple Hearts. Another gentleman that was awarded 2 silver stars and 3 Purple Hearts and was a tunnel rat in Vietnam. I hope we made their day because they sure made mine.

The day ended with a sense of fulfillment, as we continue our mission to ride for those who can no longer ride themselves.

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**Daily Recap: RFTW Day 4**

Today, we rode from Amarillo, TX to Shawnee, OK under clear skies. Our highlight was visiting a Veterans Home in Oklahoma, where we honored several heroes, including a Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient.

One encounter deeply moved me: Retired Sergeant First Class Avery Hall, a Bronze Star recipient, insisted on making a donation to RFTW. Despite my assurances that it was unnecessary, he was determined. As we walked to his room, he shared how much our visit meant to him and his fellow residents, expressing his gratitude that was truly humbling.

We set out today to honor and encourage these veterans, but I left feeling far more touched by their gratitude and strength. First Sergeant Hall’s words and actions were a powerful reminder of the impact we have on each other, and the deep connections formed through moments of shared respect and honor.

While in Fort Sill we had the solemn honor of visiting Fort Sill National Cemetery. As we stood around the American Flag on top of the hill, we paid our respects to the brave men and women who have served our nation.

It was a humbling experience, reflecting on the sacrifices made by so many to protect our freedoms. Each name, each marker, is a reminder of the cost of our liberties.

We honored their memory with reverence, committing to always remember their courage and dedication. May we never forget the debt we owe to these heroes.

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Day 5 of the Run For The Wall (RFTW) journey from Shawnee, OK to Forrest City, AR was a day marked by a strong sense of community and support for our veterans. Riders stopped at overpasses along the route to express gratitude to supporters waving flags and offering encouragement. Generous hosts provided meals for lunch and dinner, embodying the spirit of hospitality and camaraderie that defines this journey.

The assistance of law enforcement, fire departments, and local community members was instrumental in ensuring the safety and success of our ride. Their unwavering support underscored the shared commitment to honoring and remembering our veterans, reflecting the values of service and unity that are central to the RFTW mission.

As we continued on our journey, each interaction with supporters and community members served as a reminder of the collective dedication to our cause. The day’s events highlighted the importance of coming together to express gratitude and support for those who have served our country, reinforcing the bonds of respect and remembrance that unite us on this meaningful journey.

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RFTW Day 6: A beautiful day to ride from Forrest City to Cookeville. I’m proud to be a Tennessean! This morning, we visited a TN Veterans home in Humboldt. These visits are always challenging, but our purpose is not for ourselves, but for them. We ride for those who can’t. We were able to revisit many of the residents this year. The resident who stood out to me last year, we made sure to visit today. Unfortunately, his health has declined, and he is now on hospice care. Despite how difficult it is for me to visit, the residents are so appreciative.

I also appreciate Commissioner Baker for joining us during our visit today. We had a fantastic lunch at Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Dickson. On our way into Cookeville, we passed under overpasses with numerous people showing their support. The journey down Jefferson is always truly amazing. Even though we arrived ahead of the pack, there were many individuals along the route cheering us on.

The law enforcement support across Tennessee is incredible. I want to express my gratitude to all the departments and agencies. During dinner, I had the honor of presenting a framed copy of HJR 733, which I carried this year, designating August 1st as Gold Star Children’s Day, to Gold Star son Bill Burkhart. Bill has joined us every year at Midway in Cookeville. I am thankful that Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter and Mayor Lauren Wheaton, along with the community, support our Veterans and Law Enforcement.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the weeks after our 2024 Mission has ended, I will gather up as many stories and phots as I can from our three outreach Missions today.  I will try to make a special post just to let you know how wonderful today is going to be for some of our Veterans.


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route SITREP Author

Paul Meyer, Peter Green, Jim McCrain. RFTW 2023.








I’m going to miss you, Mate. Goodbye, Greenie!
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Day 06. Forrest City AR to Cookeville TN.

I want to talk today about our Riders, and how they have developed in their skills and confidence over the past six days.  Run For The Wall, and the Midway Route in particular, has a unique way or style of Riding.  Most of our Riders have done some form of group and/or formation riding with their local HOG clubs, Patriot Guard Riders, VFW or American Legion Riders, or the ever-present “poker runs.”  They often say before day one that “I ride with a group a lot.” or “I am a ride captain with my chapter.”  But what most of them haven’t done is ride in a group AND a formation for hours on end, day after day for two weeks.  They also probably haven’t used the rigid form of hand communications that RFTW uses.  Many have never ridden side-by-side, and certainly not at highway speeds.  I was the same when I first started riding with Run For The Wall.

But boy, did I learn how to ride that first year!

First and foremost, everything that we instill in our Riders is for their safety, the safety of those around them, and the safety of the general public.  Afterall we are sharing the highways and byways with the rest of America.  We have to deal with angry truckers that are just trying to make a living.  We have the people that are just in a hurry and don’t want to wait.  (Lots of cars will pull directly into the pack, squeezing between the platoons or sometimes entering directly into a platoon.)  We have to ride through all but the most severe weather.  Why?  Because it isn’t easy to find a place to pull over and park 300+ motorcycle.  Also, we have time commitments, not only with our destinations, but also with Law Enforcement Agencies that sometimes escort us.  If we are too late, they will have to leave us to our own devices to get through some of the major cities.  So with all of these considerations, we ride “RFTW Tight.”

We don’t leave too much of a gap between the individual Riders.  No, we aren’t crowding each other.  Each bike has plenty of space to operate safely.  But what we DO require is that each rider maintains his/her place in either the left or right track of the lane.  If you aren’t familiar with this idea, think of an automobile on the road.  The two left tires are in the left track, while the two right tires are in the right track.  That’s pretty simple, right?  However, for the riders that aren’t comfortable doing this (maintaining and operating in that 4-5 foot wide space), it can be quite daunting.  We maintain our tracks, so that people aren’t switching from left to right, which could cause an accident, or at the least make the other riders around you a little nervous so that they slow down.

What happens when a rider slows down?  The person behind that rider has to slow down.  Imagine how long of a “footprint” we would have if 100 bikes all had to slow down.  We already stretch out over a mile when things are running smoothly.  Make that two or three miles, and then you get those angry truckers!  Our Road Guards and Platoon Leaders do their best to keep the pack “tight” and this includes the spaces between the platoons.  We want to allow enough room for traffic to change lanes as they need too, but not by cutting into the platoons.  So we leave a gap of about the length of 1-2 semi tractor-trailers.  It isn’t an exact measurement, but almost everyone on the highway can easily spot that opening.  But then again, if we leave too much space, then more and more vehicles will try to “cut through.”  This is not a safe activity for anyone!

Again, our Road Guards, Platoon Leaders, and the “Tail Gunners” (riders at the back of each platoon that are looking for upcoming traffic) work together to assure safe lane changes, proper distances between platoons, and between the individual riders.

As I said before, this can be pretty daunting to our new Riders.  In fact, during the first few days, it is not uncommon to hear the FNGs talk about how harrowing the experience has been, and how uncomfortable they are riding this way.

But by the time we have gotten through day three or four, these same riders are keeping their intervals, maintaining the tracks, passing along the hand signals, and actually starting to enjoy the riding portion of our Mission.  The change that comes over them is amazing to see!  Each year, in my own case, I come away from the Run with even more skills and confidence, and I know that our FNGs will do the same.  And when they get back home, many of them will tell their ride captains, HOG Group Leaders, and other riding organizations just how professional, safe, and efficient riding “RFTW Tight” is.  In fact, I sometimes cringe when riding with other groups because I am so used to riding in a regimented and safety-conscious manner.

“RFTW.  It changes you, Man!”

And today was such an amazing display of all these new skills, and the precision riding that we have been developing.  I rode in the “Chase Truck” today to give my sprained ankle time to heal.  (The Medics told me that I would NOT be riding today, but that I HAD to be in the Chase Vehicle.  Remember, Safety is our number one priority!)  As the Route Photographer, I am frequently catching up with the pack, riding ahead to take pictures, and then catching up again.  Several times a day!  I am always amazed at the view of 300 motorcycles in a tight formation riding down a lonely stretch of highway.  And when they get to a curve, the light glinting off of all that chrome as the riders lean in to it is just spectacular.  Well today, I had the opportunity to take a lot of photos of this.  Everyone wants to ride in the front of the pack, and I hope that they will get that chance.  But I also hope that everyone will take the opportunity to ride in the back of the pack.  Not only are the views unbelievable, but THIS is where those skills get sharpened.  It’s a little tougher riding back there, but the experience is so worth it!

And that is what we did today.  We rode, in tight, precision formations for 300 miles to get to Cookeville, Tennessee.  This is our “home away from home” on the Midway Route and we love coming here.  But that is tomorrow’s story!


Jim “Hoofer’ McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author.




You can see a few more of today’s photos at this link.  Be sure to check back about a month after the Run, as I will be adding hundreds more for each day.

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Day 05. Shawnee OK to Forrest City AR.

Today was all about making miles.  In fact, we rode well over 300 miles today.  But without some very dedicated and often over-looked Teams, we wouldn’t go very far.  So I want to talk specifically about the Advance Team, the Fuel Team, and the Staging Team.

As the name implies, the Advance Team leaves each stop about 30 minutes ahead of the main pack.  They are responsible for getting to our next location “in advance” of the Pack.  (The name kind of makes sense, doesn’t it!)  This Team alerts the pre-arranged location that we are on the way, and then starts setting things in motion.  They make sure that the fuel pumps are turned on, with someone ready to write a check at the end of our stay.  Or if it is a lunch stop, they are there to make sure that all of our pre-arranged items are available.  They are also there to make sure that the community and businesses that we are impacted are aware that “it is happening NOW!”

The Fuel Team is in charge of … The Fueling Process!  Once the Pack arrives at a fuel stop, we are greeted by the Fuel Team that takes over from the Road Guards in pointing us in the correct direction.  It is the Fuel Team that decides which pump lane that each vehicle goes too.  They have lanes specifically reserved for Trikes and Spyders.  If they see a Road Guard or other Leadership Members, They will direct them to the front of a line so that they can get back to work quickly.  The Fuel Team will hand you the fuel nozzle and then you will pump your own gas.  When your tnk is full, the Fuel Team will take the hose from you and pass it to the next person.  If any fuel gets spilled during the process, they will actually wipe your bike dry!

One of the many hazards to these Team Members is the dreaded “highway pegs!”  Many riders have extra footpegs attached to their bikes so that they can stretch their legs out.  The problem with these pegs is that they stick out several inches from the bike.  If the Rider doesn’t put their highway pegs in the “up” position, the Fuel Team Member runs the risk of having their shins hit.  So to prevent this, we actually have a hand signal that we use to remind everyone to “put your highway pegs up!”

Once your bike is fueled, then you are handed over to the Staging Crew.  These brave souls stand in an empty parking lot holding either a directional flag or a tall numbered banner.  The people with directional flags point the (often circuitous) way to the final parking area.  Here the Rider looks for their Platoon Number, and with the help of the Staging Team, pull up to the correct position.

It all sounds pretty easy, but please remember that we are fueling over 250 bikes, in less than 20 minutes!  These three Teams are the first out from every stop, which means they miss any parades or special programs that might be happening.  They even have to eat in a hurry, because the Pack NEEDS them at each stop.  Without these Teams, the Midway Route will go nowhere!

There is another Team that I have to mention, even though we hope they never have to do anything.  I am talking about our Medical Team.  We have real, actual, trained Medics that ride with us.  They keep an eye out for every Rider, making sure that they are well hydrated, fully functional, and safe to ride.  If you are NOT any of these three scenarios, they can and will pull you from the Pack, put your bike on a trailer, and let you rest.  If you happen to step off a curb while trying to take a picture and twist your ankle, well guess what?  They will fix that, too!

That reminds me of another unsung Team, the Chase vehicles.  If your bike breaks down, this Team will load it onto a trailer and take it (and you) to the next location or dealership.  If YOU break down, they will do the same thing.  Yeah, I will be in a chase vehicle tomorrow so that my ankle can heal.  No one likes to have that “ride of shame” (Riders don’t like putting their bikes on trailers!)  But I know that I am personally glad to have our Chase Team help us out!

So that is a quick rundown of some of the Teams that make the Midway Route run so efficiently.  Folks, you may not be seen much, but we sure do appreciate you!

Now let’s talk about what we did today.  We rode.  Three Hundred plus miles, under gorgeous blue skies with amazingly white puffy clouds.  The temperatures were cool but not cold, and lead into warm but not hot.  So we just rode!

We stopped for lunch in Russelville, Arkansas.  The meal was fantastic!  (Yes, my Dear Wife, I ate something other than cookies!)  The Veterans Park there is very nice, with lots of shade for us to sit under.  One of the things that many people did while there was to pay our respects to “Ms Irene” who passed away two years ago, right after serving us our lunch.  Everyone thqt knew her said that her last day was filled with joy and happiness, because she was doing what she loved to do: serving and honoring our Veterans.  The Midway Route installed a memorial plaque for her last year.

Once we left Russelville, we headed to Forrest City, Arkansas, for our final meal of the day.  The Colors were presented by the local High School ROTC.  They did an outstanding job!  After dinner, Singer Eric Horner performed a set of very Patriotic songs, chosen specifically to warm our hearts and fill our soul.

I do want to Thank the anonymous person that left a little gift for me on my motorcycle today.  AS I approached my bike after helping out with some traffic directions, I noticed a small mesh bag gently tied to my tank bag.  Inside was a card and a little silver camera charm.  I love it!  Your gracious little gift made me so happy and I could feel the love of this Family.  I am truly blessed to e among all of you Heroes!

And with that, our day was over.  Tomorrow, we will head to Cookeville, Tennessee.  But that is a story for another day.



Jim “Hoofer’ McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author.





See a few more of todays photos at this link.  Be sure to check back about a month after the Run, as I will be adding hundreds more for each day.

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Day 04.  Midway Route, May 17, 2024.  Amarillo TX to Shawnee OK.

Today, we learned about Honor.  The lesson came in many forms.

Some were expected, some were not.  Some were light-hearted, some were somber.

They all had one thing in common: They were heartfelt and genuine.

Let’s get into our day.

It all started with our morning meeting.  First, we were happy that the weather forecast was warm and sunny instead of cold and wet.  It wouldn’t have mattered one way or another, but we were happy all the same.  We heard our usual talks about the route, safety aspects, road hazards, and all of the other important physical aspects for the day.  During the “hand signal” demonstration, “Pipes” swears that he was showing how to act if you need to “tap out” of the pack for any reason.  To me, it looked like he was dancing to “Staying Alive!”  It was a light-hearted moment about a serious issue.

We finished our meeting, as usual, with the reading of a biography of a Missing In Action soldier.  This Man had been heard on the radio, pleading for help after he had been wounded while trying to rescue two of his buddies.  When the radio went silent, all three were presumed dead, so an air strike was called in on their position to annihilate the Vietcong enemy.  The next day, the bodies of two soldiers was found, but NOT that of the one who was on the radio.  He is still listed as Missing in Action.  This was a somber reminder of duty, sacrifice, and loyalty to a fellow soldier.  It is the epitome of Honor.

It was then time to roll, with a full Presidential Escort again, from the Officers of the Amarillo Police Force.  They led us out of the city during morning rush hour traffic, and made it look and feel effortless.  I know that they enjoy doing this, because you get to ride fast and do some fun maneuvering.  Our Road Guards got to do what is called a “bump and go” tactic, which is where the Police Officer stops the traffic on the on-ramp, and then a Road Guard pulls up behind him to take the Officers place.  The Road Guard is thusly “deputized” or at least authorized to legally hold the traffic.  It is an amazing maneuver to watch, and even more fun to do!  As we reached the City limits and the end of their jurisdiction, the Amarillo Police Motor Officers lined up their motorcycles and saluted our Midway Route Riders!  They showed great honor to us as we continued our Mission.

Our first fuel stop was in the little town of Memphis, Texas.  This is a nice little town on the edge of a major Texas highway.  It is always busy, but we certainly made it a lot more busy.  As I was talking to a few of the Memphis Police Officers and a Texas Highway Patrolman, they remarked on how chaotic it looked, but they could definitely see the intricate patterns in our system.  They were suitably impressed!

From here, there was a “breakout” group that needed to get ahead of the pack before they got to our next stop.  On the way, I was told to fall in with the Road Guards for the next 120 miles.  Oh Boy!  I get to play with these Guys again!  Riding side-by-side across the rolling plains of Texas and Oklahoma is fun!  Again, I am amazed at how good our Road Guards are, and honored that they would trust me to ride within their ranks again.  Somewhere along the route, I got to have a little fun with my Friend Ryan Michael Long.  “Pipes” is well known for pulling up next to someone as they roll down the road and innocently reach over to hand them a butterscotch candy.  As more and more Road Guards were dispatched to various exits, I found myself moving forward in the cue until I was riding directly next to Pipes.  I quickly reached into my tank bag, pulled out a butterscotch candy, and handed it over.  Pipes deftly took it from my hand, popped it into his mouth, and smiled!  It’s not very often that anyone gets a chance to do that to Ryan!

Then we reached our major destination for the day.  We arrived at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  This is an active Military base, with strict access restrictions.  We rolled right in, thanks to the preparations of Col. “Heavy” King.  He had set up all of the access before we got there.  It was kind of cool to watch Him roll up to the Guard Shack, and see the Soldier at the gate first salute him, and then reach out for a rolling high-five!  “Heavy” led us to our meetup location and gave instructions where needed.  He then looked at me and said “Follow Me. Let’s go!”  Okay.  He’s the boss!

We then went on a “rather” quick tour of the base.  I didn’t know where we were going; I was just following our Leader.  Eventually, he stops, looks at me and says “Is this okay?”  Not knowing what he was asking for, I just said “Sure!”  That’s when he said “Have fun!  See you when you get there!”  And with that, he was gone and I was sitting in an active military base, not sure where I was, or what I was supposed to be doing.  So, I got off the bike, grabbed a camera, and just waited!  About 10 minutes later, I heard on the CB radio that the main Pack would be coming down the road in just a few minutes.  I found a decent place for some photos, then followed the Pack back through the base.  It was quite an honor for me, when one of the Military Police Officers walked up to me and asked if I was with “Colonel King.”  As soon as I confirmed this, the Officer started telling me how excited everyone was for us to be visiting today.  They were proud to host us, and he told me to just do whatever I needed to do to get the photos that I wanted.

Once the Pack entered the base, I followed them to our rendezvous location.  I wasn’t there long, because I knew that our Route Coordinator had been invited to a special ceremony at the “Chief’s Knoll” in the middle of Fort Sill.  This is the sacred burial mound for the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Tribes.  They wanted to honor Run For The Wall for what we are doing.  The Tribal Leaders offered prayers for our safety and presented a ritual offering of water and tobacco as a blessing to us.  Several songs were sung in our honor, and to pay tribute to all of the Native American soldiers that have served and died for our country.  It was a very moving ceremony. One of the Apache Leaders did throw in a bit of humor when he welcomed us “even though we are on an Army base.”  If you have studied any American History, you can hopefully understand why we all laughed!  After all, the past IS the past, and they are all fiercely proud to be both Native and American Citizens.

We then made our way back to the rest of the Midway Family, for a lunch and more ceremonies.  Every Rider was moved by the songs, both in English and the Native languages.  Songs were sung of Welcome, Patriotism, and a special one to praise our Veterans.  It was quite an honorable afternoon.

Soon, though, it was time for our last one hundred mile ride of the day, to our overnight stop in Shawnee Oklahoma.  Here we had a wonderful dinner, served to us by some of the most gracious and sincere people that I have ever met.  I look forward to visiting with them each year, especially the two sisters that never stop laughing!

We were all welcomed in with open arms and left with full hearts and bellies.  As we were preparing to leave, a sweet little girl named Kylie walked amongst our Riders to offer them a poppy to pin on our lapel.  I don’t know who enjoyed it more, Her or our Riders.

So you see, everything that we did today was centered around a common core of Honor.  From the reading of a biography of a soldier Missing In Action, to the actions of the Police Officers, to the attitude of the Military Police, the “silly” opportunity that I had to pay homage to “Pipes”, and to the warm reception and blessings that we were given by the Kiowa Commanche and Apache Leaders, everything was about Honor.  It was another amazing day!


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author





You can see a few of the photos that I took HERE.  Be sure to check back after the 2024 Run has ended, as I will be uploading hundreds more photos once I get back home.

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Day 03. Midway Route. Albuquerque, NM to Amarillo, TX

Mea Culpa!


I have to start off this SITREP with a huge apology to all of the Midway Route Riders.  Yesterday, I ended our SITREP by saying we would have a “splash of fun.”  I was referring to our annual lunch stop at the “Blue Hole.”   I hadn’t checked the forecast when I wrote that, and it rained ALL DAY today!  So I will own it!  I made the mistake!  I will try not to do that again!

Okay, you may have figured it out: we got wet today.  It was raining pretty hard when we woke up, but at least it was a balmy 44 degrees.  (Sarcasm, just in case you didn’t get it.)  Yep.  Cold and wet, for most of the day.  Just when we thought we were getting out of it, another band of “bad” weather would roll in.  But the Midway Route doesn’t stop just for some cold rain.  We are on a Mission, and we will keep to our schedule.

“The weather started getting rough.  Our tiny bikes were tossed.  If not for the courage of our fearless Road Guards, the Midway might get lost.”

Okay, it wasn’t that bad.  It just seemed like it for a few miles.  Our Road Guards were amazing, though.  Even when we had (very) limited visibility, they were still out there doing their jobs of keeping us on time, on schedule, on the right roads, and keeping us safe from other traffic.

The work that these dedicated volunteers do is so hard to describe.  They are the first up and (almost) the last to bed.  They know every turn and exit on our entire route, and have an incredible system for dispatching an RG to a specific exit or ramp.  If you are listening on the CB radio, you might hear our Road Guard Captain say something like “Psycho … 239.”  What he has just done is tell Psycho (that’s his road name) to go and control exit or ramp number 239. Or you might hear him say something about a “push team.”  These are the Road Guards that help “push” merging traffic over to the leftso that we can safely merge onto the highway.  If you hear someone announce “Mazz is back in the nest.”, that simply means that Mazz has finished his assignment, made his way back up to the front of the pack (not an easy feat in itself), and has rejoined the pack of Road Guards, ready to be deployed again.

Each member of our Road Guard Team is an extremely accomplished Rider.  They take advanced rider courses every two years, at a minimum.  Some take that course and more, EVERY year.  We have some “Certified Escort Riders” as well.  That is a WHOLE other level of professional riding.  I have been honored to ride as a Road Guard for a couple of years, and I have seen these Guys and Gals in action. They are simply the best at what they do that you will ever find.  They are also pretty nice people, as well!  Every time I get to meet up with them , whether out front of the pack or at an intersection, I am amazed at how they handle each situation, and even more happy that I get to “play with them.”  The nicest thing that they have said to me this year was yesterday, when they caught up to me right before our last fuel stop.  I heard “Pipes” on the radio saying “Hey!  We found a Hoofer!”  Thanks Pipes!  That made my day!

Y’all be sure to go hug a Road Guard tomorrow.  Tell them that Hoofer sent you!

But let’s get back to the rain again, just for a little while.  As cold as it was, and as miserably wet as some of us felt, I overheard a couple of Riders saying that at least we could get inside, warm up, and dry off every once in a while, unlike the POWs that we are riding for.  That simple statement made me forget my own discomfort for a bit, and reflect on what that rider had just said.  WE ARE lucky.  What do you think some of those POWs would have given to be on a motorcycle riding through wet cold rain, with the promise of warmth, safety, and food waiting for them?  How could we complain about such a temporary affliction?  We KNOW there will be an end to our “suffering.”  They did not.  I was so proud of our Riders for the attitude they displayed today.

And it wasn’t just the weather that has been mentioned.  A few days ago, our lunch stops were being discussed.  One Rider asked what we would generally be served, and without any hesitation, someone said “It doesn’t matter.  It will be the best meal that you have ever had!  And if it isn’t up to your liking, just think of what a POW might have to eat.”

These kind of conversations happen on a daily basis, with every Rider that I have encountered.  No matter what is going on, someone always brings it back to our Mission of honoring, serving, and remembering our Veterans and POW-MIAs.  The Midway Route Riders really focus on our Mission, and don’t hold back on their emotions or dedication.  I am so pleased to be a (small) part of this group!

But after all of that riding in the rain, it was time for that “splash of fun” that I mentioned yesterday.  Our lunch stop is at the “Blue Hole” in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.  This watering spot is an 81-foot deep spring fed pool that has a beautiful blue color.  One of our Midway Route traditions, started by a Road Guard named “Gear Shift” and faithfully carried on by “Mazz” is to jump into the pool, wearing full Road Guard gear!  As an enthusiastic crowd of four looked on, Mazz took the plunge!  Traditions: Check!  Good job Mazz!  I am proud of you!  (I would have joined him, but I was carrying a bunch of cameras, you know, and I didn’t want them to get wet.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

It wasn’t long after lunch that the sun broke through the clouds and it turned out to be a pretty nice afternoon.  In fact, it was so nice that when we stopped at our last fuel stop for the day, we went in for ice-cream!  The Midway Route Riders LOVE their ice-cream!  We actually go to several places that serve up really good and big scoops.  So all of you FNGs, if you see the Road Guards hurrying into a store en-masse, follow them!  There may be something yummy waiting for you!  And to show you their generosity, a couple of them threw down some money today and started a tab for anyone that wanted a cone.  I’m telling you, our Road Guards are the BEST!

Outside of the “Russel’s Travel Center” on Route 66 (just outside of Glenrio, NM), there is always a beautiful Family of Veterans waiting to greet us.  They give us (more) ice-cream, some flags, bandanas, small medical kits, sunscreen, water, hats, shot glasses, and a score of other little items, just to thank US for making this Mission.  They do all of this from their own pocket, and don’t accept anything other than a hug as “payment.”  It is WE who should be thanking THEM, and we do!  I look forward to seeing them every year.

Eventually, we made it to our final stop of the day: Amarillo, Texas.  (I always breathe just a little better under my big Texas Skies!)  The Christian Heritage Church puts on a spread that is unrivaled!  Smoked and BBQ’d ribs, smoked chicken, cole-slaw, potato salad, apple cobbler, sweet tea!  Oh, I am making myself hungry again!  But as good as it is (and trust me, it is GOOD!), that isn’t the best part of the evening.  There is always some sort of a small ceremony or presentation to keep our minds focused.  This evening, we heard a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem by an equally beautiful Young Lady.  She didn’t screech out the words, or try to impress us with some amazing range of high notes.  She just sang it the way it was intended, and let her angelic voice wash over us.  The roar of applause when she was finished wasn’t just for the Anthem, but for her respect of that anthem.  She didn’t need any vocal gymnastics to impress us.  (But I bet she COULD hit those notes.  She was very good.)  She also sang “Amazing Grace” at the end of our evening.  It was so nice to hear.

Part of the presentation was to hear a few words from a “Gold Star” Family member.  Donna Hogue lost her Husband in Vietnam back in the late 1960’s.  She has dedicated her life to making sure that other Gold Star families don’t have to go through the same anguish that she did, by becoming an advocate for Family rights.  All of the Gold Star Family members that I have met seem to k now her, and they hold her in the highest esteem.

So what did she do for us this evening?  She had made a quilt that she said could be given to someone, or used as a prize for a raffle, or anything that we wanted to do with it.  She had barely gotten the words out of her mouth when a bidding frenzy started!  Donna’s quilt brought in $450 dollars in less than a minute!  Ms Hogue, I think you could start taking orders for these!  Thank You for the beautiful quilt donation, but more importantly, thank you for your sacrifices throughout the years.  Your husband, and YOU, will not be forgotten.

And with that, Folks, our day has ended.  There was more that happened, I am sure, but I don’t have those stories to tell you yet.  (The Outreach Team has been very busy!  I may have to dedicate an entire SITREP to what they are doing!)  If you would, please say a prayer for good weather and safe travels for all of our fabulous Midway Route Riders.  We still have a long way to go.


Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author

Follow this link to see some photos from today’s journey.  Be sure to check back after the Run for more!